Development of flight and locomotion in laying hens

Principal Investigator

Alexandra Harlander, University of Guelph

Year the work was done


Overall objective

  • To investigate the development of locomotion in the air and on the ground in pullets and laying hens, the birds’ preferences for flying and walking, and the significance of this knowledge for the proper rearing and housing of pullets and laying hens in aviary systems.


  • Results show that chicks prefer to remain on the ground and started using elevated surfaces at 8 days of age.
  • Incline angles should not exceed 40 degrees to minimize stress and wing assisted include running or aerial ascent on steeper inclines.
  • Overcrowding, visual constraints and poor physical health all reduce perching performance.


  • These findings provide useful practical information for consideration when designing aviaries taking the development of chicks’ locomotor abilities into account.

This research applies to


This research was supported by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canadian Poultry Research Council and Egg Farmers of Canada.